Big Data on BHR: Innovative Approaches to Analysing the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre Database

On 30 September 2020 an article published in the Business and Human Rights Journal by Dr James Allen-Robertson and co-authors Nicole Janz, Rajeshwari Majumdar and Shareen Hertel gave new insights into the study of business and Human Rights (BHR).

Data limitations in the field of BHR are a significant challenge to developing transparent and replicable scholarship.  However, the authors have identified a promising development with the emergence of large-scaled automated coding of company-related ‘stories’ from the Business and Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC) database which tracks performance of over 9,000 companies worldwide.  Information held on this database has been difficult to analyse, in part, due to the necessity to hand-code related content which is a time consuming and complex process. Research teams from the University of Connecticut, University of Nottingham and University of Essex have been able to develop and use application programming interfaces (APIs) to code units of data from the BHRRC database.

Using the BHRRC repository as an example, this article considers new approaches to big data in the BHR field, including using custom-built analytics and data visualisation tools and the ongoing challenges involved  in working with this kind of data.